2021 SEIU Local 284 Member of the Year: Catherine Johnsen

Catherine was recognized as the 2021 SEIU Local 284 Member of the Year at the February 20, 2021 Leadership Assembly.  Catherine (Cathy) Johnsen meets the challenges of District No. 186 in Pequot Lakes every day as an attendance and discipline secretary.  She’s been a fixture in the district for more than two decades.  In January of this year, she was nominated by coworker Carrie Chiodi to be named Local 284’s Member of the Year.   In typical Minnesota fashion, when Cathy learned of her nomination she remarked, “I’m not even sure why I’m nominated.  I feel that others deserve it more.” Cathy though, personifies the dedication of union work.

In the more than twenty years she’s been in the Pequot Lakes School District, the community has experienced growth and change. Expansion included additions to the fifth-grade wing, a new media center, a science wing with labs and classrooms, district and high school offices and an addition at Eagle View Elementary School, where Cathy works.  While coming from a family of teachers, Cathy’s head for numbers lead her to a clerical position.  That skill allows her to help others, explaining sometimes confusing payroll details to those looking for assistance. It’s a reflection of her strong union background and family ties to organized labor

Cathy has served on the negotiation teams for paras, clerical staff, food service and custodians.   When she saw some coworkers were being overlooked in step increases for longevity, she took measures to advance a correction.  This year she worked on delivering true benefits compensation for secretaries.    Although not a steward, she extends herself to fulfill many of the duties associated with that title.

SEIU Local 284 is pleased and proud to have Cathy Johnsen as a member.  She is described by a coworker as someone who is not afraid to fight for what she believes the non-certified staff are entitled to.  She is a staple in the lives of the students, with whom she celebrates with each interaction, presenting just the right demeanor to encourage students who may be facing consequences for their actions. Cathy is perhaps, best described in the words of the coworker who nominated her;  “Cathy finds ways in our school to bring joy to the daily lives of students and staff, whether it be in the form of decor for seasons or holidays, notes of encouragement, or private conversations. She is a champion in our district and our community.”


Congratulations Cathy Johnsen

SEIU Local 284 Member of the Year

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